We woke to garbage trucks and the pounding of workers. The sky was grey. We stayed in the apartment until noon-ish, then headed out for the Pompidou Center, across the bridge onto the Right Bank. Our first stop was at the Hotel de Ville where we spent about $100 on museum tickets for the week. It felt like a mistake, but that is what all the guidebooks say to do.
Armed with tickets, we pushed on. We found the Pompidou which was under heavy renovation and was confusing to navigate, but after some clumsy minutes, we made our way to the 5th floor where the paintings of Francis Bacon were exhibited. I was excited, but after standing in a long line and were nearing the entrance, we were told that we would need to purchase another ticket to see the show. Our passes were only for the museum, the woman explained, and not for the gallery. We would have needed to spend another $22, and Ili was not enthused, so we went down to the 4th floor to see the modern painters. Nice. The third floor was contemporary art and was dull, minimalist, and pedantic. The usual fiber and lights hung from the ceilings, the usual tube worms projected from the floor. Video displays that made little sense were showing. Neither of us were excited by what we saw there.
We exited and stopped for lunch at a Vietnamese restaurant. Chicken soup, or their version of it. It was just what we needed, Ili said. Keep us healthy.
From there, we wandered the crooked streets to the Picasso Museum. Along the way, we stopped for cappuccinos at an Arab cafe and sat street side. Ili said it was the best coffee she ever had.
Ili liked the Picasso Museum, she said. She liked the old building and grounds that held it. We walked the four floors of the museum looking at some Picassos I’d never imagined. Always a surprise, that Picasso.
When we left, it was late afternoon moving toward early evening. We stopped and shopped along the way, first buying a baguette and some flan, then stopping for a wonderful cake that we would eat later. We crossed the bridge at the Ille St. Louis and went first to the wine shop, then to the cheese shop. I decided to buy a bottle of scotch which was practically the same price as I pay at home. We ambled across the bridge to the Ille de la Cite and to our little home. A glass of organic wine, some bread and cheese, and talk of the day.
We decided to eat at the little restaurant around the corner claiming to be the oldest restaurant in Paris having opened in 1589 or some similar date. It was small, almost cramped. Another couple entered just before us, and we were all instructed to go upstairs. The dining room was empty and dark and the other couple complained in Italian and used their iPhone to light the way. The waiter encouraged us on vociferously until he could reach the light. There were just the four of us, but Juli thought it fine. She ordered wine and snails and duck in orange sauce. I had the rabbit in mustard sauce. The waiter, Freddie, was a singer who spoke five or six languages, seven if he had been drinking, he said. He was a funny fellow. He invited us down into the courtyard to see a new gallery that had opened. It was not so much a gallery as a spiritualist place that taught yoga and had massage and hypnosis. The artist whose paintings hung upon the walls had an accident and a near death experience, the woman in charge told us, and he had a vision and began painting. The woman was an ex-aerospace engineer, "If you can believe that," she said. She showed us pamphlets of castles that her group owned where they conducted seminars with spiritual leaders from around the world. The art was awful.
Back upstairs, I said that if I had that vision after my accident, I would just go ahead and die. Juli was enamored of the place and I said it was Amway.
When we left, Freddie poured us two glasses of wine for the road. He knew our apartment and the Americans who own it. She is famous, he said. She organizes dinners for Trump and Macron when they meet. Intriguing.
We finished off the night with some whiskey and exhausted, we went to bed.
I woke at two when I began to puke in my sleep. I almost died the rock star death, asphyxiating in my own vomit. I began to cough and puke, the acid from my stomach burning my trachea and larynx.
Ili said she thought it was the cheese from the cheese monger with the dirty fingernails since we shared the dinner and she didn't get sick. Maybe.
I wondered why they never showed this sort of thing on any of Anthony Bourdain's shows. No matter. If you don't want to take chances, you should just stay home.